A Prayer for Constructive (Actions)
in the Beginning, Middle, and End
(Thog-ma-dang bar-dang tha-mar dge-ba'i smon-lam)
by Tsongkhapa (Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa)
revised literal translation by Alexander Berzin, January 2006
First published as The Prayer of the Virtuous Beginning, Middle and End, translated by Alexander Berzin, with Sharpa Rinpoche, Khamlung Rinpoche, and Jonathan Landaw. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, 1973.
Revised second edition published in Life and Teachings of Tsong Khapa
(Robert Thurman, ed.). Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, 1982.
Order the second revised edition of this text directly from Paljor Publications.
I prostrate to all the Triumphant (Buddhas) in the ten directions,
Together with their spiritual offspring.
(1) May the boundless prayers I have offered
with a pure, exceptional resolve
To be able to free countless wandering beings
from their compulsive existence
Be fulfilled as words that come true by the might of the never fallacious
Three Precious Gems and the powerful sagely masters.
(2) In all my lives, one after the next,
may I never be born in any rebirth states
In which I’ve plummeted to be a worse kind of being
Wandering in a worse type of realm.
(Instead,) may I (always) attain human bodies,
complete with respites and enrichments.
(3) From the moment I’m born, may I never be attached
to the pleasures of compulsive existence.
But rather, in order to attain liberation, may I,
by my thoughts of renunciation,
Unrelentingly involve myself, with joyful perseverance,
In seeking a celibate life.
(4) In order that I might take robes,
May all favorable conditions come about, as I’ve wished,
Without my circle or possessions
(5) Once I’ve taken robes, then as long as I live,
May I never be stained by the fault of (committing
Any) prohibited or naturally uncommendable act,
Just as I’ve promised before the eyes of my abbot
and spiritual master.
(6) On the basis of a celibate life, may I,
for the sake of all my mothers,
Actualize over countless eons,
With the myriad hardships (involved),
Every profound and vast Mahayana teaching there is.
(7) May I continually be cared for by a hallowed spiritual master,
Whose mental continuum abounds with good qualities
of scriptural knowledge and realization,
Whose senses are calmed, who has self-control,
a heart of affectionate concern,
And the courage of mind to accomplish undauntedly
the purposes of others.
(8) Just as Sadaprarudita entrusted himself to Dharmodgata,
May I, as well, totally please my hallowed spiritual master,
With respect to my body, life, and all my possessions,
And, thereby, never cause him displeasure for even a moment.
(9) Just as the meaning of profound far-reaching
Stilled (of extremes) and parted from mental fabrication,
Was related to Sadaprarudita, unpolluted by the fouling waters
of distorted conceptions,
May it always be explained like that to me.
(10) May I never fall under the influence
Of the worst kind of friends or misleading gurus,
Who are teachers of nihilist or eternalist views
That transgress the meaning of what Sage (Buddha) intended.
(11) By securing myself to the boat of listening (to teachings),
thinking about, and meditating upon them,
And by flying the mainsail of a pure, exceptional resolve,
Being propelled by the wind of unrelenting, joyful perseverance,
May I free (all) embodied beings from the ocean of recurring existence.
(12) To whatever extent I might uplift my mental continuum
By much listening (to teachings), exceptional giving,
Pure ethical discipline, and analytical discriminating awareness,
May I be parted to the same extent from any consequent feelings
of puffed-up conceit.
(13) Without ever being quenched, may I listen to endless (teachings
On Buddha’s) scriptural pronouncements, close to a learned master,
Who opens up the exact meanings of these texts
By the force of pure logic, without entering into reliance on anything else.
(14) Having examined fully and correctly with the four axioms,
Day and night, the meanings of (the teachings) that I have heard,
May I cut off indecisive wavering, with the analytical state of mind
That’s arisen from having thought about the points to be thought about.
(15) When, through the state of mind that’s arisen
from having thought about the extremely profound ways
of the Dharma,
I’ve found certitude (in what they actually mean),
May I entrust myself to solitude, with the joyful perseverance
that severs all entanglements with this life,
And thereby actualize (the teachings) with proper (meditation).
(16) When, by having listened (to the teachings), thought about, and
meditated upon them,
I’ve developed on my mental continuum the essential points
of the Triumphant (Buddha’s) intentions,
May I never have the attitudes arise of wishing for my own happiness
Or for the appearances of this lifetime, which would just cause me greed
for (the things of) compulsive existence.
(17) When, with an attitude of no attachment
For all objects of wealth, I’ve overcome stinginess,
May I gather limited beings into my circle
By generosity, first with material things,
and then satisfy them with the Dharma.
(18) Having thought about renunciation, may I always uphold
The victory banner of liberation, for which I would never forsake,
Though my life be at stake, even the most minor training,
As I have assumed it, until my attainment of a purified state.
(19) Whenever I see, hear, or recall any limited beings
Who would beat, tease, or humiliate me,
May I be free of anger and, in response, address myself (instead)
To their good qualities, and thus meditate on patience.
(20) Having completely rid myself of the three types of laziness,
Which impair my gaining lustrous virtues not yet attained
And improving further those already attained,
May I exert myself with joyful perseverance.
(21) Having rid myself of stilled and settled states of shamatha
that would practically propel me into compulsive existence
By their being bereft of the power
of an exceptionally perceptive state of vipashyana,
to put down the extreme of compulsive existence,
And their being isolated from the moisture of compassion,
to put down the extreme of complacent (nirvana),
May I meditate instead with a joined state (of all three).
(22) Having completely rid myself
of all the various worst distorted views
That take as supreme some partial voidness that the mind has made up,
From having become frightened at the (full) meaning of the profound
abiding nature (of all things),
May I gain realization that all phenomena are primordially devoid
(of true findable existence).
(23) May I yoke to the flawless discipline those (monks) who,
With minds lacking a sense of honor (for the monastic community),
rip the pure trainings to shreds,
Never fearing the actions despised by the holy and who,
In breaking the discipline, are in fact trainees in virtue
in outward appearance alone.
(24) May I quickly and easily lead to the path
praised by the Triumphant
Those who, having come under the influence
of the worst kind of friends or misleading gurus,
Have left aside the correct path
And are on the worst, distorted paths.
(25) When I have captivated the bold masses
of foxes of misinformed speech
With my lion-like roar of (correct) explanation, debate, and composition,
May I take care of them, then,
with whatever means might be skilled for their taming
And thus uphold the victory banner of the undeclined teachings.
(26) Whenever I am born and can drink of the nectar of the Sage
May I be endowed, at such times, with a good family,
Body, wealth, power, discriminating awareness,
Long life, no sickness, and happiness.
(27) Toward those who continually harbor thoughts
Of harming my body, life, or possessions,
And also toward those who speak unkindly to me,
May I especially develop love like a mother.
(28) And may I confer on them, without long delay,
The highest state of peerless enlightenment,
By developing on my mental continuum a pure, exceptional resolve
And a bodhichitta aim that meditates
cherishing others more than myself.
(29) May everyone who sees, hears,
or recalls these prayers
Be undaunted in actualizing, without an exception,
The great waves of prayers
Of the Triumphant One’s spiritual offspring.
(30) By the force of offering these extensive prayers,
Which have come into being by the power of my pure,
May I bring to perfection far-reaching prayer
And thereby fulfill the hopes of all embodied beings.
This “Prayer for Constructive Actions in the Beginning, Middle, and End” has been composed at the glorious Drikung-til Monastery in the Zhoto District by the itinerant (monk) Lozang-dragpa, who has heard many teachings.
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